Workers to march for ‘living wage’ on May 1

KUALA LUMPUR: The organisers of this year’s Labour Day rally have called on Malaysians to join their struggle for more equitable pay, saying the current minimum wage is not enough to provide a decent standard of living.

The May 1 Secretariat, a group of organisations led by Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), said they hope to see the government set a new minimum wage of RM2,000 this year.

“Despite Malaysia implementing a minimum wage of RM1,500 per month, this amount remains low compared to the actual cost of living,” PSM deputy chairman S Arutchelvan said at a press conference here.

“Therefore, this year’s theme advocates for a living wage rather than just a minimum wage.”


Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) introduced the concept of a living wage in 2018, which it defined as the minimum income needed for a household to participate in society and possess the opportunity for personal and family development, as well as freedom from severe financial stress.

It estimated the living wage to be RM2,700 for single adults in the capital, RM4,500 for couples without children, and RM6,500 for couples with two children.

Citing data from the statistics department, Arutchelvan said 35% of formal sector employees in Malaysia – over 2.2 million – earned below RM2,000 a month as of March 2023.

Arutchelvan also urged the government to establish a Gig Worker Act to ensure the welfare of gig industry workers, or recognise gig workers under the Employment Act 1955.

This year’s march will start at Dataran Maybank and end at Dataran Merdeka.

Last year’s edition saw about 1,000 representatives from 87 NGOs and political parties converge at the city centre.

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